Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bizzare Image of the week

Well, 2 weeks left till I get a break for Christmas. I've now finished a 6 week psychiatry attachment, 5 week pediatric attachment, 1 week general practice (and an extra 11 week longitudinal GP placement every wednesday afternoon for the past 11 weeks.) On monday I start a 12 week internal medicine placement which includes 4 weeks Respiratory, 4 weeks Gastroenterology and 4 weeks of elderly care medicine (with a 1 of palliative care included). I'm looking forward to it, but really loved my time in paediatrics and General Practice.

But thankfully my life is not just about medicine these days (although it constantly feels like that). I've been trying to include more creative non-science things in my life recently just so my sould gets a reboot now and then. I've been at a few gigs recently which have been cool. One was of a friend of friend named Luke Leighfield, who's someone kinda like a young british Ben Folds. Any singer-song-writing-piano-playing-person is alright by me. So that was cool.

I guess the oddest thing I've been too recently was a night called Slava's Snow Show. Which was a production put on in Southampton's main theatre and we were able to get massively discounted student tickets, but basically it's this Russian clown show, but so much more than that. Poignant, funny, weird, life changeing perhaps....not sure.

Here's a you tube video

Been a couple times to the Talking Heads (a local pub) open mic's a semi-artsy pub and they normally have bands play and comedy nights and such, but this open mic night can draw all sorts. A 25 piece ukelele orchestra (which I've just missed 2 weeks in a row), a scarily good guy who sings quite disturbed songs about people who've hurt him or who he wants to hurt, just through singing and using a loop machine of prerecorded sounds. A random old guy who spounts the same political rant each week to drum beats on his casio keyboard. And then the normal man and his acoustic guitar acts and a few other mixes. Each does two songs and it's pretty cool, a nice change from medicine life.

And even better, in light of the credit crunch, and having a pretty powerful talk on money at church, I tried to see if I could get a cheap drink from the bar. I asked if there was any drink in any size that I could get for less than a pound and he said no. So Tom and I decided to split a half-pint of I think Hoegaarden (but now I'm not sure), to give us a quarter pint each, for a mere 70p a head. We were trying to split the half between two glasses and it was taken quite a while when the bar man took both glasses away and filled them up for us! It was AMAZING, I think now I can understand just a little bit of how the people around Jesus must have felt when started out with rather sad few fish and loaves and came away with a feast. What a feeling!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Congo Update

I don't know if anyone reads my blog anymore (except for of course my faithful grandparents), but I just wanted to update people about myself and some other things.

As probably most or some of you know the Democratic Republic of Congo is a country that's been on my heart since I was a teenager and saw a series of documentaries on television about both the unbelievable beauty of the country and life of the people there, as well as the years of devastating conflict going on there.  Since then I've had the privilege of meeting several people from that country and getting the know the situation there a little bit better.  Recently, however after a short time of relative peace, there has been increased violence in the East. I have to say that I really don't know exactly what's going on (I'm really bad with keeping up with things these days), but the BBC reports that at the moment that over 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are on the run.  Please pray for this country, which has seen so much harm over the years.  

If you're interested in learning more about Congo and a group of Congolese christians who have an amazing vision of helping rebuild their country in the long term, go have a look at the website of Congo Initiative personal news.....I've finished psychiatry (which I actually really enjoyed) and have spent the past week on a paediatric attachment.  I'm loving it! I had my first on-call last night, and for once actually felt somewhat helpful....they were really busy and could use all the hand they could find.  It's really sad to see the little kids, but I've been really surprised at how brave and well they tend to cope with their situations.  Anyway, I've got 1 of 2 big essays for this year due on wednesday, and in typical Kingsley style I've left it to the last minute, but it'll get done. Anyway, that's pretty much it for now.  So I'll leave it there and get back to work.  

Monday, September 29, 2008

need to update..

Hey everyone, 
So I realise I'm getting pretty bad at updating this yet again.  School has hit hard this year.  I'm in the middle of my first attachment which is psychiatry.  I'm finding it really interesting, but also hard going.  There's  a lot to learn, and well, it's also pretty hard in other ways cause I find mental illness really sad, it must be so hard to not be able to trust your mind, or to have something which no one else can understand.  There's a lot of examples of people doing really well though, and I've met some patients and former patients who have given me real hope for people, but yeah, this past week has been hard.  I'm looking forward to a more medical attachment, although I'm sure my next attachment will come with many challenges of its own, it's paediatrics.

But all in all life is going well.  I'm back going to the worlds greatest house group, so that's a good thing.  I'm constantly blown away at the depths of creativity, maturity and wisdom of the people in that group.  I start spanish lessons in a week, and hopefully this year will be able to be involved in working one on one with refugees in the southampton area through a local group called CLEAR.  That, and I'll be starting a part-time job soon (as soon as I can schedule the required training at a time when it doesn't conflict with something else I have to do).  I'm also using saturdays to study for the USMLE.   So yeah, if it seems like my life is too busy and I'm overcommitted, well, I probably am.  But it's just for a year or two more, so that's good.  

Anyway, that's a minute quick update for those of you who are wondering if I'm still keeping my head above water, I am....for the moment anyway ;)

Friday, September 19, 2008

G.K. Chesterton on our man Francis of Assisi

 “What gave him extraordinary personal power was this; that from the Pope to the beggar, from the Sultan of Syria in his pavilion to the ragged robbers crawling out of the wood, there was never a man who looked into those brown burning eyes without being absolutely certain that Francis Bernardone was really interested in him, in his own inner individual life from the cradle to the grave; that he himself was being valued and taken seriously, and not merely added to the spoils of some social policy of names in some clerical document.  He treated the whole mob of men as a mob of kings."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wow, it's people like this guy that give us a reason to be hopeful.  

Click HERE to watch a video about a guy that spends his days just helping people...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Donald Miller Prays at the DNC

Well, I'm pretty slow, and although for some reason  (probably the issue of addiction in my life) I watched almost the entire "enthralling" Democratic National Convention a couple of weeks ago, I somehow missed that the great author of books like "Blue like Jazz" and "Searching for God knows What" said a prayer on stage during the convention.  I just watched it on youtube, and was saddened.  The word 'tool' comes to mind, or being 'co-opted'.  I know others will hail this as a great sign of the beginnings of the release of the strangle-hold that the Republican Party has held over the American Christian church, but why trade one master for another? Besides the fact that I don't think Christianity should allow itself to be so easily co-opted by any political party, and although I agreed with most of the prayer/speech, there was one statement in of his that truly did upset me.  He said, 

"Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.
 A lot of people don't like us but that's because they don't know the heart of the average American."

What?!? are you serious?  Even if the average american has a humble and hospitable heart (and many do- my entire life I've been the recipient of incredible self-sacrificing generousity from literally hundreds of Americans) that's not the reason why many in the world don't like the political entity of the USA.  And this statement belittles the experiences many who have suffered at the hands of either exploitative corporations or misplaced and mismanaged military (and often the combination of the two).  I'm not the best qualified person to talk about patriotism or the 'christianity of a nation' (although Greg Boyd I hear has some good things to say about the topic), but what I do find myself agreeing with is what I read in a recent blog post by Jim Wallis, that the slogan of one of the big front runners in the presidential campaign "Country First" is not a statement followers of Christ can sign up to.  It's not an option for us.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Well, I'm sure some of you know that a little over a week ago I was in Hungary....why Hungary literally a few days after finding my feet back in England from Phnom Penh? Well, my brother was leading a conference for GEM-Ks and he was short staff, the theme of the conference was being taken from a book that I had just read, and I was still unemployed, so it worked out that I was able to go.  And I'm so thankfull that I did, it was such a great week! 

So this was probably my, I don't know, 7th conference....I went I think 5 times as a teenager, and once as a leader 4 years ago literally on the way back from spending the summer in Jordan.

If you want to read more about the week go to another leader's Michaela's blog.  She has a much more in-depth summary of what went on.    

Here's some thoughts of mine that I wrote a couple of days after coming back that is perhaps an example of some of the things we were discussing through the week.  

Wednesday 13-08-08
East Waterloo Train Station, London

-So at conference we were using the book J4P as a basis for our discussions.  Analisa brought up the point about our conflicting values of justice and thrift.  We've been taught so well to buy good deals, when things are on sale, or at discount stores, so that we don't spend more than we should.  But then when we were talking about how often these low prices don't capture the entire cost of their production and often feed our system of oppression and hyper-consumption then we find that we have a system where our values are in conflict.  
I was thinking about thrift.  I truly believe in this value, I buy many of my clothes and possessions cheaply at 2nd hand shops or discount stores.  I never buy things at full price it's just not in my nature.  But does this thrift have a purpose?  I think it was John Wesley who said, "Earn a lot, spend a little, give generously" (or something like that).  We've got perhaps the first two down.  But I really think that at least personally, my thrift only enables me to consume more, rather than give sacrificially.  The money gets spent, I just make it go farther.  So in this instance is my thriftyness really of any value anyway? What is it's kingdom purpose or is this just a relic of calvanistic culture that has been passed on divorced from it's original intentions? 


Is our system of cheap prices for everything from alarm clocks, coffee, t-shirts and throw-away cups at fast food restaurants really capturing the cost of producing them? Or are we actually relying on a system of exploitation (exploiting cheap labour, exploiting the environment) just to feed our consumption?  If we read the section of the bible where the prophets are putting into words God's anger for the stuff that his people are doing, exploitation is one of the biggies. But is it too ingrained in our system for us to truly break out of it? 

Monday, July 28, 2008

And a few more....again, Thanks Sarah for your pictures...

This is Tearom, relaxing on Om Heurn's bed in the middle of the day.
This was when a few of us went out on the riverfront for my birthday it was a really good time.
Okay, so when I arrived Om Heurn told me to save a particular date because I was going to a wedding on that day. I thought that would be fun. It was apparently for a neighbour, but I didn't know him. So when the day arrived, I suddenly realised that when Om Heurn was saying I was going, she meant only me. Well, as 'comfortable' as I was navigating new cultural situations with my unbelivably fluent Khmai (that's a joke)... I communicated to Om Heurn that although I was grateful to be invited to the wedding I was really not happy going alone, so she managed to convince Serey her neice who lives with us to go with me. Which was a real help, because she helped to interpret some of the faux pas that I was making. Such as when I was drinking beer with the men at the table, when we knocked glasses I was supposed to make sure my glass was lower than theirs because they were older than me, and I was also supposed to hold the glass with two hands..... stuff I had completely forgotten about. So yeah, I was happy someone else was there with me. Oh yeah, and Om Heurn ended up making fun of me because I was wearing this shirt (wich she had given me the time before!) because it made me look like an old man.....I can't win with her ;)

Okay! time for a few pictures...from Sarah's Camera....still can't get mine up yet...

This is a picture of most of the people who I live with. I took the family on a day out during my last saturday as a thankyou to them. We went to Wat Phnom which is a beautiful temple on a hill in the centre of Phnom Penh. After this we walked around town a bit and then I brought them out to dinner at what was the teenagers choice: 'Lucky 7' which is a western style Cambodian burger joint. The prices there are cheap for western standards, but pretty ridiculous for Cambodians, 2 dollars for a meal?! So they don't normally get to go somewhere like that. It was a really fun day.
(alright lets do names: back row Left - Right: Tearom and Mesa, Next Row L-R: Theara, Serey, Serey's Nephew-Arat, Me, Bong Arun, Om Heurn, Om Srai, Front Row L-R: Mai Mai and Sunti)
This is a picture of Bong Wat, Me and Mesa. Bong Wat is a great guy who lives in the community and is currently in Bible School. He helps to pastor a new and small struggling church outside the city but is back here on evenings and sunday afternoons.
I just thought I'd give you that familiar image of rooftops over the community. I think it's actually quite beautiful, even if all those tin roofs mean boiling hot interiors....and loud rainy nights ;)
I went along one day to TASK's annual picnic for the people living with HIV in its programmes. IT's a really fun day and we went up to visit some temples north of the city, which were beautiful and on top of a pretty large hill (notice a pattern yet?) we all had lunch together and played some fun games before returning home. This was the point when we were listening to an encouraging message from one of the HIV/Aids home-care volunteers.
And yes, this is a rare picture of me doing my laundry. Theara, my roommate is seriously one of the most servant hearted people you'll ever meet. So, during my 5 weeks there I was only able to do my laundry twice, as he would always beat me to it. I tried to return the favour and do his, but somehow I get the feeling that he doesn't think I know how to do it right....ah well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Final Update From Cambodia

Hey Everyone,
Well, it's pretty sad to admit how close I am to leaving. It's wednesday morning here, and my flight back to England leaves Friday morning. I've gotta admit I've been waking up the past few mornings depressed. But, by the middle of the day my spirits are usually lifted again, because the family I'm living with here, and the staff that I get to hang out with are all pretty cool people.

I really don't want to leave, although I know I've got to go back and finish up these last two years of medicine. In some ways being here has really encouraged me to keep studying. There have been so many times where I just wish I had more confidence with knowing how to deal with people's complaints. When people have infected wounds (happens pretty much everyday in my community) I'm prettymuch at a loss of what to do for them more than helping people know how to clean the wounds, use antiseptic creams or drops, but when it comes to antibiotics, although if pushed I could probably tell you the mechanisms of how some of them work, I wouldn't really be able to tell you much about which one to use when.

One of the teenagers in my community Odom comes from a pretty hard background. His dad left his mom and him and his siblings at an early age, when his mom got sick. The room that his family now rents isn't really big enough for all of them, so Odom tends to rotate sleeping at our house, or at the church (which is just at the end of the alleyway). They don't have always enough food to eat, so others in the community often call him to eat with them if they see him about. He was over at our house last night, and showed us his foot. He's been working on a construction site and got a pretty deep cut from a nail. Not good. His foot is pretty infected, and really is not pretty. He's been to a local pharmacist who is giving him something for it (not exactly sure what), but I also wasn't really sure what to give him or tell him yet. This is why there are so many people advocating for basic first aid training to come early in our medical's frustrating not to be able to do anything for him at the moment, except give him some antiseptic cream, and some instruction on washing and cleaning the wound.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to post any pictures of the trip yet. I've either lost or didn't bring the cord that connects my camera up to the computer, so I'll try and get some up when I'm back in England.

God's been teaching me a lot here, about myself, Cambodia, and his Kingdom. During my time here I've been reading a book recommended by one of the servants people here called "Jesus for President". It's been a really good read (despite the cheesey title). It's really just about how often us Christians and the church have forgotten that the way God works among us, and his social order are so completely different from the ways that things normally happen in our world. I've been reminded not to put my trust in education or economies, in systems of world power, but rather to trust the servant king who was born homeless and lead a non-violent revolution to defeat hate and captivity. I think too often I seek to change things through power and money, but forget that it's impossible to change a broken system using the ways of that system. If you haven't read the book yet, I'd encourage you to do it. I think Shane is speaking something which so many of us need to hear right now.

Anyway, as always seems to happen when you're thrown into a situation that's so different from your own, these past few weeks I have really seen my inadequacies. But I've also been constantly reminded, that it's throught my weak parts, through the things that I know I can't do by myself, that God often works to bless others. It's crazy and messed up, but seems to continue to be true.

Okay there's loads more that I could talk about, but that will have to wait for individual emails or conversations when I see you next time. I'll leave you with just this, a few things to think about and pray for for Cambodia in the next few days.

1) You may have seen on the news that there are huge tensions between Cambodia and Thailand right now, over a border dispute that is years and years old. A lot of people are talking about war and although that seems to me incredibly unlikely, it's causing even more fear for many people. So pray that peace would restored to people's hearts and lives and that a non-violent acceptable solution would be found by the two countries.

2) There's also the national election occuring on Sunday. This by itself brings a lot of fear, and there have been many threats of violent retaliation if the govrning party doesn't win again. People are very fed up and don't like the current system, but also feel incredibly trapped. Pray that whatever happens, that there will not be violence and that whoever wins, will learn to have compassion on the poor of Cambodia and seek less their own interests and more the interests of those they are supposed to be serving.

3) And just a personal request, please pray that my travels go well, that I'll remain healthy my last few days here, and that I'll be able to make all the goodbyes well. Pray also that when I get back to England I won't be too depressed and will be able to find work quickly. Thanks again.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Another Rainy Hour in Cambodia

I'm again (once again) escaping to an internet cafe during a dounpour after a meeting I had near the Russian Market (Psaar Toul Tom Poung- for those of you who know Phnom Penh).

I can't believe that I've now just reached the mid point of my time here, it seems to be flying by far too quickly. I've been really encouraged though over the last week with some really useful meetings for my project and already talking to people here who can see the value of the work I'm doing so that really helps to keep me motivated.

I've been struck more this time about the larger picture issues facing Cambodia. Injustice is a massive problem. Many of the prisons are full of those who are inocent, but too poor to buy themselves out. When they are inside, if their families can't provide for them, they face terrible cramped conditions and malnutrition. Another issue is that so many are facing evictions in the countryside where their land is being sold from underneath them with little if any compensation. The land is mainly going to many foreign companies and individuals who are playing the speculation game. You hear from some of these farmers that they would rather die now than lose their land, because by taking their land you kill them slowly. Many totalitarian ways remain outside the city of Phnom Penh, and in many places you need to receive the permission of your village chief to have any sort of gathering, or if you wish to leave the area for any reason you also require permission from the authorities. I can't imagine living like that.

I was trying to imagine what it would be like as a struggling rural farmer to lose your land. As a suburban guy for my whole life, that sort of life-style is so removed from me, but I wonder if it wouldn't be akin to something like this, let me know what you think:

For a poor farmer, all he has ever done is farm the land. They know land and they know their crops. They know especially the land and crops that grow in their area. They might not be able to read, or might not have any other 'marketable skills,' but the land has sustained them. I think of me, I've never owned any land, and I think helping my mother when I was forced to in the back garden doesn't really count as farming. But what economically sustains or will sustain me are my education and my experiences. The fact that I've been to university, already ups the possible pay that I might get, further training as a doctor will undoubtedly provide financially for a time for me and my family in the future. So perhaps evicting a farmer from his land might be a little bit like someone wiping my mind of my education.

Perhaps, if you feel in a similar boat as me, think of what it would be like to wake up tomorrow morning and not be able to read, or not remember how to work a computer, speak technical words in your language, write a report. What would it be like to not know how to put together your thoughts in a logical order on a piece of paper in a way that other people can understand? Of course I don't know, but I imagine if it might be a little bit like that- taking away the capital that a farmer has (his land) and the capital that you have (your education). How scary would it be to live in constant fear that all you know about life and how to provide for your loved ones could be ripped away from you at a moments notice.

We are confronted by massive issues here and as I got around and meet many different organisations working here in Phnom Penh, I see even larger parts of the jigsaw that all fit together. We had a meeting for the Servants workers today, and a friend shared a passage that she has been dwelling on recently. It's in Luke and it's the story of the goats and the lambs. There's a whole lot of stories that Jesus tells leading up to this one that helps shed even more light on this, but to keep it brief I'll just focus on this part. What are the reasons why God seperates the goats from the lambs? Was it that their churches were too small, was it that their worship music wasn't moving enough, was it that their youth programmes weren't big enough and didn't run smoothly enough (not saying that all these things aren't worthwhile perhaps) but those aren't the reasons god separates these two groups. In the story, the goats are separated because they didn't invite the stranger into their home (I probably have never really done this), they didn't clothe the naked (I have never done this), they didn't visit or take care of the prisoner (I have only very rarely done this), and they didn't feed the hungry. Okay so it's not about these exact activities per se but we get the picture.

This story is immediately preceeded by the story of the Talents. I know a lot of us feel like, 'what on earth can I do?'I was struck today, that perhaps the one in the story who was given just one talent may have felt that same way, and so he was afraid to even use that one talent. I so often feel COMPLETELY INEPT, especially when I come across people with stories and situations that are so foreign to me. I feel completely unable to do anything.

But why is it..... that when I truly believe that the way God works is to use the weakest things in the world, the things and people that the world believes are useless and inept, I don't apply that to myself? Perhaps God wants to use me in my UNBELIEVABLE ineptness; this lazy, overweight, uncoordinated, not very street-smart, suburban man to make a difference. I just need to be open to it, give up the fear- and let him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hello from Cambodia!
I wanted to let anyone who's checking my blog know that I got here safe and sound. Things have changed here greatly over the past few years. There's much building going on and a lot more cars on the road and even some places people are taking notice of traffic lights! How things have changed. On the other hand there have been a lot of changes for the worse. In many ways, like in the West, the rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. The price of living has skyrocketed and those who were finding it hard are finding it even harder before. Land prices are risen by 400% which of course means that less people can afford to have their own land, and so face eviction at the whim of big land ownders or the government.

Things have changed in my family as well. It's great to see how my siblings at home have grown up into intelligent talented young men and women. A couple of them can speak a lot more english now than before so I'm having fun helping them practice. I'm also really thankful that in many ways I've been able to remember much of my cambodian language too. It's still not where it was before, but I'm able to have conversations with people so that's all that matters really. I'm hopefull that it will continue to come back.

I was told the other day more about the project I'm going to be doing while I'm here. Servants/TASK the organisation I work with here is undergoing a great time of transition and really is looking to the future and how the organisation and it's activities might change. Part of that means figuring out who else is in the city helping the urban poor and what they do and where, and then figuring out what gaps aren't being met. So that's my job, I'm going to be meeting with the different NGOs here that work with the Urban poor and find out exactly what communities they work in, what services they are trying to provide, and what they believe the biggest unmet needs are. I think this is something that I can actually help with, as I know how to get around, and it frees up the long-term workers here from having to waste their time waiting for meetings that might or might not happen and such. It also gives me a chance to see more of the bigger picture of what is happening with the urban poor in phnom penh. It's going to be a frustrating job, and I'm sure it won't be finished in the month that I'm here, but I'm hoping to make a good start on it, so that someone else can finish off where I stopped. So if you're the praying type, please pray that I'll be able to get good contacts and get some good info for Servants as they plan for the future.

Alright, that's it for now, I'll try and post more soon,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Okay, so yeah, too many pictures of me on the blog, so here's one of my favourite from Banksy who is one of my favourite artists. It's entitled "the elephant in the lounge" and was a live piece on display in L.A. for a week I think...
Alright, so yeah, that long hair would have been pretty hot in Cambodia, and probably increased my chances of failing my OSCEs (oh how I love the establishment nature of the medical profession!). So one of my tasks for today was getting the apparently much needed I thought I'd show it off online.

1 Week Left!

Ahem....alright, the picture above is a piece of work that I thought somewhat accurately symbolizes my current inner feelings (I guess it could also be interpreted as me about to eat a giant invisible sandwich but I'll let the viewer decide). 1 week from today I will be on a plane heading towards Phnom Penh! Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed money to help me to go and to support the work of the Cambodian community health organisation TASK that I am going to be working with. So far we've received enough support so that we can give a donation of over 600 US dollars to their work! Depending on where you're coming from that may either sound like a lot or a little but at the moment with the global economic crisis, and the skyrocekting food prices in Cambodia, it will help a lot. The average monthly salary of a full-time TASK employee is in the range of about 120-140 dollars a month so this obviously will mean a lot to their work and hopefully will help them be able to spend money to provide the most basic of needs (food, shelter, medication) for some of the most vulnerable in Phnom Penh.

Although I'm really excited about going back to Phnom Penh, there's a whole lot to do before I go. I've got a final exam on Thursday (it's an OSCE - Objective Structured Clinical Exam) where they set up patients in several different rooms and stations, and you have about an hour and a half to rotate through and spend about 8 minutes with each patient and perform an assigned examination, take a history, or interpret some results of tests. In a way, it's actually kinda fun, but also can be pretty scary (for both student and patient I imagine!). Anyway, that's on thursday so I'm spending the next couple of days preparing for that. Then, as soon as that's over, I'm moving all my stuff from my current house into a new one, and then wrapping up everything I need to do here before I leave on Tuesday! One final thing that I'm trying to organise at the moment is a job for when I get back from Cambodia. I've planned on only going to Cambodia for 5 weeks this summer as I really need to spend some time earning money to try and subsidize all the expenses that come up during the year. I'll probably end up trying to do some temp work, but it would be really nice if something became confirmed before I leave, cause it would take that concern off my mind. So if you're thinking of ways to pray for me at the moment, that would be a good one.

Alright, well I guess that's it for now, I'll try and post once again before I leave. Thanks again for your continued prayers, emails and support.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Latest soon to be Illegal Aliens...

Hi everyone, well I know I've been slow on the blogging front these days, (my big exams are on tuesday), but I thought I would share this with anyone who happened to check my blog. If you pray, we could really use your prayers at the moment because my brother and sister-in-law (and of course my nephew and niece pictured above) have been refused residency in Ireland and are now being told to leave by August. NOT GOOD! They're going to fight it of course, but we'll need a lot of people praying that they'll be looked upon with favour by those who make the big decisions.

It's hard for me to believe that my brother who has lived in Ireland longer than me, and who missed being born there by only 2 years could be any less entitled to live there than me. And also my neice who was born in Dublin at the same hospital I was (She's not entitled to automatic citizenship because of a recent unfortunate change in the law). Anyway, it makes me angry and upset, but I'm praying and hoping that their appeal will be heard and that they'll not only be allowed to stay, but be given permanent residency like my parents were recently awarded. Anyway, if you can spare a minute please pray for them. I know they really would appreciate all the support they can get.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Well, I'm enjoying the unvelievable weather we've been having in Southampton, by sitting in the dark recesses of the library, studying for the exams coming up in a few weeks. The weather is great though and really does a lot to lift my spirits. I was made for warm weather.

I've been feeling guilty that I haven't had a lot of time to look into what's happening in Burma (Myanmar) at the moment. There has been a cyclone which has killed a government estimated 25,000 people but local organisations on the ground reckon the toll could rise to over 100,000. This is absolutely huge! Just think with all the civil unrest in Burma this past year and then the massively high prices of Rice, this really couldn't have come at much of a worse time. The government is also not helping the situation by rejecting offers of foreign aid.

Please pray that the Burmese government would think of its people and would let in aid from the outside and aid workers to help organise and distribute the relief. I read a report today that only about 10% of those needing help have been reached so far by organisations already in Burma, so much more help from the outside is needed. If you're thinking of giving I'd reccommend tearfund as a good place to start, as they tend to work with local partners on the ground (

Some other news which seems to be going unnoticed by some news outlets is the current situation in Lebanon. In recent days they have witnessed the biggest civil unrest since the civil war, and gunmen from Hezzbolah have taken over parts of the capital and have silened much of the pro-government media. Please pray for peace there.

In personal news, I'm eagerly awaiting to have these end-of-year exams over with --unlike those in America, the main important medical exams here (the 'Intermediates') take place after the third year rather than the second as in the US, so these exams won't be as intesne as my american friends are going through at the moment, but still I need to pass so that I don't have to cancel my trip to Cambodia in order to take the Resits.....that would not be good-. I'm really looking forward to being in Cambodia soon. I'm thankfull for all of those who have said they are praying for me and who have sent financial support. It's been a huge blessing and encouragment.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Car gets 100 miles per gallon in Wheaton

I found this clip online and was interested to see if this car was for real, I was pretty surprised when I realised I knew one of the inventors in the clip. Chris Ewert was a floor-mate of mine on 2-East in Fischer at Wheaton College. Anyway, it sort of blows the mind to wonder why companies haven't done this already? i'll try and not be yoo cynical.... have a look though.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It always hits the poor the hardest....

So I've been thinking over the past few months as we hear constant consumer news reports show that the price of basic food is gradually going up all over the place. More recently we've been seeing reports of the price of rice skyrocketing across the world. All this comes at a bad time economically when many western countries are looking at the prospect of recession and the value of global reserves (mainly held in USD) is rapidly declining. Whenever these types of situations occur it always hits the poor the hardest.

I just got this report in the most recent Servants Newsletter:

Cambodia: The inflation of rice prices (up to a $1 a kilo) has caused great suffering for the poor leading to chronic hunger and illness. The TASK AIDS homecare project has been forced to stop providing rice to patients and their families because the budget has run out. At the very time that those who are most vulnerable and least able to earn money are suffering servants is unable to help. Please pray urgently for this situation or contact one of the servants offices if you feel you can help in any other way.

Rice is a basic necessity of life in Cambodia. If people have no rice, they have nothing else to eat. This is an extremely difficult problem and those who are poor, displaced, and ill often have no social support in place to get them through it. It's even sadder to hear the double burden that now the agencies who had been providing food support (such as TASK's AIDS home care programme) have been forced to stop providing it because of lack of resources.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

An encouraging thought from our Mother Theresa

This was read out at Church this morning and really encouraged me. I'm reading a book at the moment which is a published account of Mother Theresa's personal correspondance and journals. She is such an inspiring woman, who had a very deep relationship with God and a knowledge of his love for us. This piece is said to have been written on the wall of her room, and is adapted from a similar piece by Kent Kieth.

Do it Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical
and self- centred.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness
they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway!

Resurrected Blog...Cambodia bound...

Well, I decided many months ago now for several reasons to give Blogging a break. But I've decided, in the spirit of the recently passed Easter, to bring it back to life, if just for a little while. The main reason is that this summer, at the end of June, I will be heading back to Cambodia to work with Servants for 5 weeks (God willing), and I thought I'd bring back the blog so that people can hear about the trip and can pray for me if they desire to do so.

I've got just over 2 months of holiday this summer, and it is really the last time I'll have to be able to travel to Cambodia before my training eats up my holidays in constant rotations. I'm excited about the trip, and will be working again with the Teen Drug Users project (TDU) set up by TASK the local Cambodian NGO that Servants began over a decade ago. Addictive drug use has exploded in Cambodia over the past 5-10 years. Reports say that 50% of Cambodian urban youth are regular users of the destructive class of drugs Methamphetamines, locally known as Yama. Many children who live in the slum communities and on the streets of Phnom Penh, get through the day through sniffing glue. There are suprisingly few Charities or NGO's working with these kids and teens to help the find a better, healthier and more hopeful path in life. The government does not have any true drug rehabilitation programme, but rather a single reserved room in its youth prison as its main response to this overwhelming issue.

When I was in Cambodia before, I worked with TASK's TDU project in its begining stages. I did research into the beliefs and behaviours of these youth to see why and how they used these substances. Now I've got an opportunity to go back and help see how the programme is doing and how it can be improved. It can seem like such an overwhelming problem, especially as it's all intertwined with other huge problems such as the breakdown of social support, lack of opportunity, and great poverty. Please pray for wisdom at how to proceed with the TDU project, and how to best reach and help these kids.

One of the communities where the TDU works